18 Things You Learn From Having Your First Relationship in Your 20s

POPSUGAR Photography | Grace Hitchcock
POPSUGAR Photography | Grace Hitchcock

Cue that awkward point in your life when most of your friends have had their first loves by 18 and you still have yet to find one person you're interested in. For the ladies who can relate, you weren't single because you couldn't snag someone; you were simply holding out for someone better, someone you could really connect with. You didn't want to waste time with the might-have-beens, the jerks, or the players — reasons I actively avoided dating in middle school and even high school.

Although many people would argue you have to date around to truly discover what you want, I can confidently say when you know, you know. And if you're the more guarded and picky type like I am, finding that special someone could take some time, but it's completely worth it. For me, the "I want to date this guy" moment didn't happen until sophomore year of college, when I was 20. Even though it was my first-ever relationship, I didn't put any pressure on it and instead just rolled with it.

I've come to realize there are probably a lot of women out there who haven't dated anyone until their early or even late 20s, and that's OK. We're still young — what's the rush? In fact, going on your first date as a 20-something is way more exciting. My boyfriend is still the only guy I've ever dated. We've been together for three years now, and these are some lessons I've learned along the way.

  1. You are never too late to the game. There will always be potential partners and you'll feel satisfied knowing you can still get the same butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling at any age.
  2. Your friends will be ECSTATIC. They've probably been trying to set you up forever and could not be more happy for you (or fiercely protective).
  3. Dating after high school is so much better. People are a little more mature and you avoided the whole moving-away-to-different-colleges scenario most high school sweethearts face.
  4. He could be the one, but no worries if he isn't. Your 20s are meant for exploring all types of relationships, but it's also nice knowing your first SO could be your last.
  5. You'll have less baggage. You'll be proud you didn't hand your heart to just anyone. You'll also have fewer sexual and emotional regrets.
  6. Compared to other 20-somethings, you'll be hitting the clubs and lounges a lot less. And if you do go out, you don't have to worry about strange people buying you drinks. Your partner's got it.
  7. Dates involve a lot more than hanging out at the mall or watching a movie. Your first date will most likely be a dinner or some fun activity where you can actually have a conversation.
  8. Conversations are more interesting. You have more to talk about, like future goals or school if you're both still in college.
  9. Others have paved the way (and that's a good thing). Watching your BFFs go through highs and lows in their own relationships will have given you greater perspective of what you want in your own love life.
  10. Meeting the family won't be as awkward. You'll have more intelligent things to say than just a simple "hey" before you retreat to your SO's room.
  11. Big moments are more special. Your one-year anniversary will be extra special because it's your first ever.
  12. Dating someone with more experience is actually a plus. It will help you both grow as a couple.
  13. You'll have better perspective. Even at your most stubborn moments during fights, you can take a step back to look at the bigger picture and try not to let your emotions get the best of your relationship.
  14. You've learned patience. You have mastered the art of taking life at your own pace, which is especially hard given some of your friends are starting to become engaged or on partner number three.
  15. It can be tricky to juggle your first relationship with school or a burgeoning career, but that's OK. Part of the fun though is figuring this stuff out in your crazy 20s.
  16. Being picky is not a terrible trait to have, despite what others may say. If you waited this long for a guy, chances are you picked a good one.
  17. You have more freedom when you're dating as an adult. Not having to deal with parental curfews is a major plus to going on dates at night.
  18. Most importantly, you FINALLY have an automatic partner for anything you want to do in life. And obviously, they can't say no.